After our seven-day wonder trip it was soon time to head to Adelaide and experience some of the South.
We picked up our rental car in Adelaide and it was all actions go to Barossa Valley.
Driving is always a bit daunting when you are in a foreign place. However, with the sat nav poised and both of our eyes on the road (as two pairs are better than one) it was all aboard the Toyota Corolla train for some wine quaffing in BV.
With the wind flowing through our hair, tunage in the background and beautiful scenery around us – we felt like Thelma and Louise – two friends on a break from it all and looking forward to our adventure.
Soon we were in Barossa Valley and not knowing where we would sleep that night we asked around and was told about a backpackers dwelling round the corner.
Once we arrived, our priority wasn’t getting a bed for the night, it was all about checking out Chateau Tununda next door.
Being a red wine lover, I was in my element. We parked up and began to explore the surrounding vineyard. Barossa Valley is one of Australia’s oldest and finest wine producing regions and Chateau Tununda is Australia’s largest chateau.
Being dubbed the ‘icon of Barossa Valley’ and established in 1890 – it was a real treat that we happened to stumble upon this little gem. It obviously was meant to be!
I had my fair share of the red stuff, trying various Barossa favourites including the renowned Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
After happily satisfying my palette it was a bottle of Pinot Noir for me, a quick stop off at the hostel to book our beds and onward to the local pub for some more wine and a seafood platter.
After a tiresome but really enjoyable day, it was time to hit our palace with its corridors full of cheesy feet smells and broken beds. Hey beggars can’t be choosers and we were lucky to find a bed for the night!
When morning had broken, we set off for our six-hour drive to the Grampians. The drive through the Grampians was breath-taking – these rugged unspoilt mountain ranges were just beautiful. I’m still amazed that every destination I go to, somehow, still manages to rouse me after all the out-of-this-world aesthetically pleasing, heart shuddering images I have seen thus far!
When we arrived at our destination, it was time for a little exploration and a short hike to see Chatauqua lookout. On route we saw parrots and kangaroos casually hanging about like they didn’t have a care in the world. A bit intrigued, they looked up and watched us approaching and when they knew we meant no harm, they carried on grazing.
Sam and I chatted away and amidst pretending we were in the Blair Witch Project, we missed our turnoff and carried on walking and walking.
It must have been a godsend as we hadn’t passed anyone else on our journey and if he hadn’t asked us where we were heading for- we would have still been walking.
Apparently we had missed the turning some way back and we were told to head back as it would be getting dark and we didn’t want to be lost in the Grampians which can be easily done.
We headed back to the lovely YHA Grampians Hostel (the YHA’s have been really good so far but this one in particular was one of my favourites and highly recommended) where we enjoyed an evening of cheese and wine.
At the crack of dawn, we were up again and it was another long drive to Great Ocean road but not before we visited Barocca Lockout and McKenzie Falls.It was really foggy at the lookout but the mist across the land with the odd scatter of sunlight protruding through the clouds actually accentuated the beauty of moment.
The colours of the trees changed as we progressed through our journey – it was like summer and autumn all in one. We were welcomed by thin trunks and fluffy coniferous looking trees surrounded by green fields and hills full of cows.
We eventually reached the 12 Apostles lookout with the great ocean beneath us and these huge limestone formations protruding out of the roaring sea.
Even though you see the pictures of these huge stacks plastered on Facebook from time to time – nothing quite compares to seeing them in reality. They truly are remarkable and despite battling the strong winds to get to the end of the lookout and almost having our phones snatched away from us by Mother Nature – it was well worth it.After getting our shots, it was a race against time to get to our YHA hostel at Apollo Bay.
Rather nervous we continued through the woodland studded roads and watched the night time creep up on us. Now was the time to be extremely vigilant and just pray that we made it through okay.
Thank goodness we did, panic over – it was time to check in, dump our stuff, and go and treat ourselves to another seafood slap up meal- again!
Another early start meant we could see and experience more things and although tired – this is what gets you pumped and ready to start the day. Our itinerary had a few things lined up for that day and we were both eager to start.
First stop was a drive to the Otway National Park for a small hike to see the Triplet Falls.
The drive was bendy, tight and hell raising at times. On one side you had the steep drop to contend with on the left and the oncoming cars with exceedingly tight tracks meant you had to be really careful as there was not much space on the right either.
However, the views and the Jurassic style trees meant it was well worth it. Especially at times when you wouldn’t see a car or a person for ages – it felt as if this jungle was ours and we just absorbed it all in.
After our jungle walk to the falls, we headed to the Koala filled town of Kennet River. We drove on tracks which were meant for 4x4s and all we could do was sit with gritted teeth hoping it wouldn’t do any damage to the car. These Koalas better be worth it – I thought to myself.
And they were! In fact, the whole drive was worth it, it was magical. At times the kangaroos would jump across the road to say hello and it felt like being in an enchanted forest where I was Snow White with an abundance of wildlife all around me. All I needed to do was break out into song!
Not before long, we soon found Kennet River and found a small crowd of people looking up and there they were – these cute little bundles of fluff way up high in the trees. I just wanted to squeeze them – they were so cute.
With our fair share of Koala spotting, we headed off to Lorne for a spot of lunch. We went to The Pavilion and treated ourselves (again) to a beautiful seafood linguine overlooking the beach.
After lunch it was a quick stop at Teddy’s lookout to get a snap of the sea, iconic Great Ocean Road and the beautiful limestone cliffs. Then it was onwards to hip Melbourne where we had to drop of the car.
We arrived at Hertz CBD at 5:30pm after looking for a petrol station for ages, getting lost and getting honked at (when you are not used to driving in Melbourne it’s hard – especially getting used to the hook turns). All I wanted to do was get out the car but the lady advised us it was best to fill up outside as they would charge us three times the price.
Have you ever been driving before and got to the point where you felt like you just couldn’t carry on?
I begrudgingly got back in the car and followed her instructions to the petrol station to fill the car up by $15.
On our return, that’s where it all went wrong! The sat nav was sending us in all directions. It felt like we were going around in circles. After 35 minutes we eventually found Hertz again. That’s when Sam calmly stated “it’s closed”. I couldn’t believe it. The lady knew we were coming back, why did she lock the door? After looking around the side hoping there was another means of getting through to someone- I heard voices from around the corner.
Sam was chatting to the same lady who told us to fill up- explaining that we got lost and pleading with her to take back the car.
To which she replied “I gave you enough time as it was only round the corner”.
I wanted to strangle the lady and scream very loudly but I just stood there and when she said “sorry girls”, I replied “okay” through gritted teeth.
We had no choice but to hand the car back in the next morning.
I was fuming but Sam was really calming and was the best tonic as she adopted a “no worries” attitude. Which helped put things into perspective.
However, it took me a little bit longer to get over it but after a few vodka and cokes – I was in the land of calm.
We did plan to leave after our second drink but that never happened.
We were in a bar called Captain Melville, served by lovely bar tenders and were given free drinks. That, combined with the great music meant it was a recipe for disaster.
It was! We didn’t leave until 5am. We left the car in the free parking spot and ordered an Uber to our hostel.
I woke up to Sam’s melodic whispers “N-a-d-i-a……….W-a-k-e…..U-p” and so I asked her what the time was. “7:30” she casually replied.
With that I frantically jumped out of bed and quickly put my clothes on. The free parking ended at 7:30 so we needed to get to the car pronto.
I had to go to the loo quickly and I saw Sam in the bathroom when I came out. Feeling disgusting I asked her “have you brushed your teeth?” she replied “okay, have you?”. “No, I haven’t got time” I returned in disgust.
With our babbled talk over with, we waited outside for our Uber which turned up 3 mins later. I love Uber!
We both felt rotten inside and out but we were in this together and our main focus was on getting to the car before the traffic warden.
To our relieve we hadn’t got a ticket and so proceeded to drop the car off (which luckily enough was on the other side of the road).
I let Sam do the talking as I didn’t want them to smell the stench of last night’s booze on me.
Thankfully we didn’t get a penalty for dropping the car off a day late. Luck was definitely in our favour.
Our next stop was breakfast and then back to the hostel for some more sleep before our walking tour that afternoon.
The walking tour was really informative and we got to see the main sites of Melbourne.
Melbourne is a really cool city, the food is good, the bar scene eclectic and the vibe is nice and chilled.
We visited China Town and ordered way too much Chinese, submersed ourselves in culture at ACME and had beautiful tapas on the rooftop of Bar of Satan.We checked out some of the night scene in great bars such as State of Grace, Berlin Bar and the Croft and visited the Penguins of St Kilda.
For our short time there we did a lot and thoroughly enjoyed it.I even did a run with the Melbourne New Moon Hash House Harriers. I was welcomed in like one of their own and had a blast. There were initiation rituals, beer guzzling, lots of singing and of course running the streets of Melbourne – which involved secret destinations and followings signs drawn on the street. It was a real hoot and a lovely way to explore the city and end my time in Melbourne.
There is so many things I would recommend people do if they ever visit Australia.
However, I must say that driving here is something everyone has to experience. The scenery is breath-taking – the trees, the wildlife, the change in colours, the sea, the limestone cliffs of the Great Ocean Road – the list is endless.
Sometimes being on a tour bus or catching a flight simply doesn’t cut it. To experience and appreciate some of the beauty, you really have to drive and take it all in as it really is out of this world.